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Mr. Bass. I should like to join in Mr. Watts' remarks and in commending my good neighbor from Kentucky, Mr. Natcher, for his interest in the tobacco situation. He is also doing a fine job on the Appropriations Committee for the agricultural people, and we very much appreciate his coming over here.
Mr. NATCHER. Thank you, Congressman Bass. I appreciate those comments.
Mr. JOHNSON. I know the Congressman is interested in the welfare of the farmers as well as the rest of the country, and we are glad to have him here.
Mr. NATCHER. Thank you.
We are certainly glad to have you with us this morning to discuss the tobacco situation in the great State of Missouri.
STATEMENT OF HON. W. R. HULL, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI Mr. HULL. For the record, I am W. R. Hull, Jr., of the Sixth District of Missouri.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am very happy to be here this morning. I come from the great State of Missouri. When we tell folks that we raise tobacco out in Missouri, they look at us in amazement because they do not think it is possible, and yet we have one of the oldest loose leaf auctions in the burley belt today, if not the oldest. We started in 1911 with the auction system.
Our problem in Missouri has been that we have been so far from the so-called hub of the tobacco industry, we have always had the problem of getting buying power out there because they do not have the supervision they get in the market back here where they are within the closer radius.
I appreciate the thought of my colleague from West Virginia that we folks out here have a problem, too.
Looking over the record, we started out in Missouri with eightythree-hundred-odd acres. I notice by our present allotment we are down to thirty-nine-hundred-and-some-odd acres. We have been cut over half.
I do not know of any other burley State in the burley belt which has been cut that sharply.
We do have a tenant problem. Most of our tenants come from Kentucky. My father and mother came to Missouri in 1896, came out there as tobacco tenants. My dad walked 15 miles a day and shucked corn for 50 cents a day. He raised his family in Missouri. My older brother was born in a log cabin. We were all born on the farm.
We are vitally interested in this matter affecting all of us in the burley business, and I hope we can reach a solution which is satisfactory to all. I think one of our main problems has been that we probably are producing too much per acre. Consequently, we do not get the fine quality of smoking tobacco that we should have.
Missouri's average production has been, I think, around 1,000 or 1,030 pounds per acre. We started out in 1866 with 16,000 acres in Missouri. I think my good friend, Mr. Bass, from Tennessee, doesn't
even know that we raise so much tobacco, and more than Tennessee ever thought of raising.
Mr. BASS. Mr. Hull has impressed upon me many times his interest in the tobacco situation in Missouri.
Mr. HULL. We do have a different problem out there because of our varied interests. Our land is high priced. A major portion of our tobacco is grown in the county in which I reside. It always has been a constant problem because we are close to defense areas. It is hard to keep tenants on the farm. Consequently, we have a terrific investment in our tobacco barns and tobacco equipment. We have lost many acres of tobacco base due to the fact that people did not want to put up with the tenant proposition.
On my own farm I have had the same tenant 17 years, and have never had a contract with him. We furnish everything for the tenant out there. All he furnishes is his labor.
I am wholeheartedly in support of this eight-State proposition, although I do think that we have been penalized—I won't say unjustly, but I think we have been cut terrifically due to the fact that it is not known as a tobacco State and consequently the people in the Department of Agriculture in Missouri know nothing about it. Although apparently they are getting so they are working more at it, we have suffered from lack of cooperation in the past in the early years because of tobacco not being one of the major crops in the State of Missouri.
I believe I have nothing else to say. I am very happy to be here this morning, and I assure you that I will go along on anything which will help the burley tobacco program. Had it not been for the burley tobacco program, I am satisfied Missouri would not have a market today. It has saved our lives out there. I think if all our farm programs had been run as the tobacco program has been run, we would not be in so much trouble with the rest of them. They are one of the finest group of gentlemen that I have ever known, and they have always worked for the interest of the tobacco people.
I believe that is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. JOHNSON. We hear quite a little from the other States about hidden acreage in tobacco. Do you have that trouble in Missouri?
Mr. HULL. No; we have never had it out there, or no one has ever been caught if we have it.
Mr. WATTS. I should like to ask Mr. Hull one question.
First, I wish to thank you for your appearance and your fine statement.
As I take it, Mr. Hull, your tobacco farmers are very much interested in preserving the program.
Mr. HULL. Yes, sir.
Mr. Watts. I would assume they are pretty much like those in Kentucky, Tennessee, and other places, willing to make whatever sacrifices might be necessary in order to preserve the program.
Mr. IIULL. Yes, sir. I think that is our only salvation.
Mr. Bass. I should like to commend my colleague from Missouri for coming to the committee and giving us the benefit of his knowledge. As I stated before, Mr. Hul and I are both first-term Members of the Congress, and since the very outset of his work here in the Congress
ne has impressed upon me his interest in the tobacco situation. Certainly he has been working in the interest of the tobacco program and to tobacco people back home. He is doing an outstanding job here in the Congress in other fields, also.
Mr. HULL. Thank you.
Mr. Bass. I should like to ask this question, Mr. Hull. You said that your acreage had been cut by I believe 50 percent?
Mr. HULL. More than that.
Mr. Bass. According to the chart we have here, the acreage in Missouri in 1940 was 5,758 acres. Then in 1954 your acreage allotment was 4,320 acres. There was a period of time during the war when, by stimulating production, the acreage in Missouri went up to over 8,000 acres, but from 1940 to 1954 you suffered a cut of about 20 percent, less than 20 percent.
Mr. HULL. May I give you this information from J. Ross Fleetwood, extension specialist, field crops, State of Missouri?
Mr. Bass. We would be glad to have it.
Mr. HULL. In 1934 we had 1,045 contracts signed in Missouri, while 1,197 contracts were signed in 1935, and these covered a base acreage of 8,318 acres.
Mr. Bass. That is 1934 ?
Mr. Hull. This is the base acreage to which one of three options was applied to secure the individual farm-acre allotment. So we originally had a base of 8,318 acres.
Mr. Bass. Yes; I can well agree with you and see that. I was just trying to get the figure for 1940, which I believe was the first year that there was a mandatory cut in tobacco production, was it not? Mr. Taylor, do you remember that?
Mr. TAYLOR. You had some in 1938, nothing in 1939, and another one in 1940.
Mr. Bass. That is what I was trying to establish. Since the mandatory cuts came into effect, it has been cut 20 percent.
Mr. HULL. May I say on my own farm I had 21 acres. I am down now to nine and some tenths. I have a 107-acre farm.
Mr. Bass. That is certainly not a desirable situation.
Mr. HULL. Certainly not. We are out there on the edge. We have suffered considerable drought. We are on the edge of the drought area out there. We do not fertilize possibly as heavily as in other areas. I think our average price will show that we raise right good smoking tobacco.
Mr. Bass. I was looking over the chart there, and you have in the State of Missouri 1,741 allotments taking care of 4,300 acres, whereas in the State of Tennessee we are in the peculiar position of having allotments in the amount of 83,000 acres, and that has to be distributed among 96,000 farmers.
Mr. HULL. What is the average size of your farms on which that tobacco is grown?
Mr. Bass. They run all the way from I guess an acre to 2,000 acres, but the average farm in the State of Tennessee is of course small, per
haps smaller than in the western part of Missouri where you come from.
Based on your long and varied experience in the tobacco businessI understand you are also in the warehouse business, are you not, Mr. Hull?
Mr. HULL. Yes. Mr. Bass. In the warehouse business and the growing business, too? Mr. HULL. That is true. Mr. Bass. Of course, you are extremely interested in the program. What is your attitude toward a combination form of acreage and poundage control!
Mr. HULL. I think that would probably be the solution to it. You must realize this: My thinking on it is that you have to get a thin type of tobacco free of nicotine and tar or we are going to be clear out of the business, irrespective of how many pounds we grow.
Mr. Bass. You feel it would not only decrease the surplus tobacco we have on hand, but also improve the quality of the tobacco we have?
Mr. HULL. The quality of the smoking, yes.
Mr. Bass. In other words, if we impose a poundage restriction based on the acreage allotment, it will improve the quality of the tobacco.
Mr. HULL. I should think so.
Mr. HULL. I do not know about the foreign market, but I certainly think it would help us here.
Mr. Bass. That has been brought out by other poeple here.
Mr. Bass. As a Member of Congress from Missouri, representing the Tobacco Belt, you would support a program of poundage control, would you not?
Mr. HULL. I am interested in what is good for the farmer. I think of the farmer first. Other things will take care of themselves later.
Mr. Bass. That is the position of all of us, absolutely. Of course I have a different problem from yours. I am very much interested in maintaining a minimum acreage program, which you would not be interested in, of course, because of the difference in the size of the allotment. We probably would disagree on that. But I feel quite sure that you and I would be in perfect agreement that a combination poundage and acreage control program would help to elimnate our surplus problem.
Mr. Hull. It it possible. When you raise a ton or a ton and a half to the acre, you know you are not going to get quality.
Mr. Bass. Thank you very much, Mr. Hull.
Mr. Hull. I would like to add one thing on the seven-tenths of an acre minimum. Probably a lot of them were given seven-tenths of an acre during the war to push up their production. We have had this tobacco program up and down. We have gone through the scale of poverty and good times. It is easy for somebody to jump in when prices are good and then jump out. But when you have an investment on a farm, you carry that thing up and down. You go with it.
We have had plenty of poverty years. I do not think it is right to bring in an additional group of growers just because the prices might be good, where they can jump in and out of it. I am strongly against it.
Mr. Bass. I am absolutely in sympathy with that.
Mr. HULL. If you will check your seven-tenths acre growers you will probably find them producing more on seven-tenths of an acre than we produce on 2 acres.
Mr. Bass. My colleague on the committee, Mr. Watts, from Kentucky, I think has introduced a bill which would increase the tax on overplanting of tobacco.
Mr. HULL. I would like to see 100 percent.
Mr. Hull. I am for whatever is good for everybody in general. I am interested in the burley tobacco business because it has been my life. I was born and raised in it, and I suppose I will die in it.
Mr. Bass. We certainly appreciate your coming and giving us your views, Mr. Hull
. Certainly they are of assistance to the committee. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman. Mr. POLK. Thank you very much, Congressman Hull.
Mr. Hull. Thank you very much for allowing me to come by and visit with you.
Mr. POLK. We are always glad to have you. Our next witness is Congressman Thomas A. Jenkins, of Ohio. We are certainly glad to have you with us this morning, Mr. Jenkins. We know that you have long been interested in this problem, and we are glad to hear your recommendations and suggestions for the committee.
STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS A. JENKINS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Mr. JENKINS. Mr. Chairman, my statement will be very short, because I appreciate that you men are all experts and every phase of this situation has been discussed.
Mr. Polk. We are very glad to have your suggestions, also, Congressman.
Mr. JENKINS. I am going to go back and tell my people that I think this committee is a well organized committee, thoroughly familiar with the problem, who appreciate that we have a problem and that I am going to be satisfied with what they recommend.
I appreciate that the gentleman who just left the stand has been in the tobacco business all his life and is a big grower. In my district I do not think anybody is in the business as extensively as he is. The good chairman will know my district, because my district adjoins his. We have a lot of small growers, but I do not believe we have any big growers, at least not any that would rank with the gentleman from Missouri.
I see you have a problem, and I feel sure that you are going to work it out.
The chairman's district is just about like mine. I have 8 counties, and you have about 8, have you not, Mr. Chairman? All of your counties produce some tobacco and all of my counties produce some tobacco. You probably produce more than I do because you have Brown County down there, and I suspect that is a bigger county in tobacco production than any of my counties are.
Anyway, gentlemen, I am going to leave it with you. I know you will do the best you can with a tough problem.